Posts Tagged ‘ Google

Google & Bing Disagree On Rel=Canonical Implementation

Google vs Bing Rel=Canonical

Bing recently posted an article:  Managing redirects – 301s, 302s and canonicals

As someone that works with Enterprise level sites on a regular basis, I deal with duplicate content & the canonical tag a lot. What really jumped out in Duanne’s article is this (emphasis added is my own):

Something else you need to keep in mind when using the rel=canonical is that it was never intended to appear across large numbers of pages.  We’re already seeing a lot of implementations where the command is being used incorrectly.  To be clear, using the rel=canonical doesn’t really hurt you.  But, it doesn’t help us trust the signal when you use it incorrectly across thousands of pages, yet correctly across a few others on your website.

A lot of websites have rel=canonicals in place as placeholders within their page code.  Its best to leave them blank rather than point them at themselves.  Pointing a rel=canonical at the page it is installed in essentially tells us “this page is a copy of itself.  Please pass any value from itself to itself.  No need for that.

This surprised me as it contradicts what we’ve been told by Google, and also contradicts my opinions on best practices for the canonical tag. I have a deep respect for Duanne, so I’m only raising this as an issue because the rel=canonical tag is supposed to be jointly supported by Google & Bing, yet we’re getting very different direction on how it should be used.

For instance, in this Google Webmaster Help video (H/T to James Constable for the link), Matt Cutts says “it doesn’t hurt to have this on every page of your site.”

Likewise, in the Google Blog, Maile Ohye of Google says “Yes, it’s absolutely okay to have a self-referential rel=”canonical”. It won’t harm the system and additionally, by including a self-reference you better ensure that your mirrors have a rel=”canonical” to you.”

Further evidence Google says its okay to have both a self-referential rel=canonical tag as well as to use the canonical tag site-wide can be found in this SEOmoz post, as well as another Google Webmaster Help video from Matt Cutts saying its okay.

I asked some of the top SEO minds on Twitter as to their opinion, and they all seem to support the notion that is okay to use the canonical tag site-wide and include self-referential canonical tags. Here are their responses:

 @Thos003: I use rel=canonical on it’s own page to deal with URL strings. I find this article disturbing

@rbucich: of course you can! Either I don’t understand the question or the person who said no doesn’t

@ajkohn: Yes. I think rel=canonical is a safeguard for HTML barnacles that might attach themselves to the canonical URL.

@james_constable: YES it needs to for all ad tracking, parameter non sense you need to avoid dups.

@dannysullivan: i wasn’t aware this was a problem. i guess i don’t see that it is. google said it wasn’t bit.ly/pxoxwx

@halvorsen I do.

So, it seems were at an impasse – what are your thoughts – is it okay to use the rel=canonical tag sitewide? Is it okay to use the rel=canonical tag on the canonical version of the page?

Will you change your recommendations to clients (or your own sites) on how they should use the rel=canonical tag based on Bing’s latest blog post?

Your comments are appreciated.

**Update @MattCutts chimes in:

@nickroshon certainly it won’t mess things up with Google to do it on every page. Can’t speak for MSFT/Bing, of course. (link)

@nickroshon self-loops on canonical pages are fine. Otherwise you’re stuck doing per-page logic for every page; not fun. (link)

Matt Cutts tweets back

**Update 2: This post has gotten some great conversation going, and also picked up by a few other sites, so I wanted to link out to that as well. It appears the SEO community finds this to be an important issue, and it’s obvious duplicate content is the thorn in everyone’s side…thanks to all that have shared my post!

How Brands Can Leverage Authorship Markup

Google Authorship Markup for Brands

Today on the Great Finds blog my colleague Matt Gagen and I discuss Google’s Authorship Markup tag, and how and why brands should implement this markup tag when it becomes available. On my personal blogs I’ve already implemented the Authorship Markup, although sadly Google still hasn’t recognized it yet even four weeks after implementation. My guess is that Authorship Markup is still in a “beta” phase but I expect it to make a big impact to the SERP in the near future, especially when Google+ becomes available to brands. Check out a brief preview of the post below, then click below to read the post in its entirety on iCrossing.com.

In June, Google announced support forAuthorship Markup. This exciting development, overlooked by many, could create huge opportunities for brands and individuals to claim their content, see improvements in click-through rates, integrate their owned media more effectively with social, and possibly improve their search rankings.

Members of Google’s web spam team are excited about the potential of this markup to help improve search results. But the initial support of this new markup has one big drawback: Google is not supporting brands that embrace Authorship Markup. Nevertheless, brands need to embrace Authorship Markup especially at a time when brands must think like publishers of useful content to succeed.

Read the full post here: Why Brands Must Claim Their Own Content with Google Authorship Markup

***Update: My Authorship Markup is now being recognized for my car blog (although not for this blog or my travel blog). This indicates to me that Google is definitely giving preference to higher traffic blogs and trigger this markup on a case-by-case basis, and not to just anyone who marks up their site hoping for a pretty snippet in the SERP. Anyway, check it out!

Authorship markup Nick Roshon

 

 

How Bing Could Own 40% Of the Search Market

In my latest post on the iCrossing Great Finds blog, I talk about how a partnership between Firefox & Bing could lead to a substantial gain in search market share for Bing, as well as a huge money maker for Firefox. Check out a short excerpt below, then head over to the Great Finds blog to read more!

Brands that invest in search engine marketing pay close attention to the market share of search engines like Google and Bing to inform their search spend. Hence search practitioners closely review monthly market share reports like this one – a process akin to watching grass grow given that market shares change by a fraction of a percent at most each month.

But recently a partnership with Yahoo! allowed Bing to increase its market share significantly (although mostly at the expense of Yahoo!). Soon Mozilla’s Firefox may force marketers to re-examine their search spend. A contract between Firefox and Google – which makes Google the default search engine for the Firefox browser – is set to expire in November 2011.

If Bing takes advantage of this situation by supplanting Google as the default Firefox browser, Bing could end up owning about 40 percent of the search market.

Read more over at Great Finds

I’m not a Google Hater…

I’ve had a few posts about Google recently that were somewhat critical. I think it surprised people given how highly I’ve spoken of Google in the past…one friend even went as far as to call me a “Google Hater.”

I thought I’d clear the air – I’m not a Google hater. 

On the contrary, I’m still a Google lover. Here are just a few of the reasons why:

  • They have the best search engine bar none
  • They have the best advertising product/platform
  • Gmail is great (although I also use Hotmail)
  • Chrome is a pretty slick browser
  • Google Maps is light years better than MapQuest or Bing Maps
  • I’d love to get a Chromebook
  • I use an Android phone and think its a great product, although it’s no iPhone
  • Their story & company mission are admirable & inspiring

I have plenty of love for (most) Google products. 

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Why I got Banned from AdSense & An Open Letter To Google On How They Should Fix It

The short answer is – I still don’t know why my Google AdSense account was disabled.

All I got was a series of automated emails explaining why they can’t tell me why my account was disabled.

I started using AdSense in June of 2009, and at the time of being disabled, I had AdSense ads appearing on four sites, and in a good month would make maybe $50 in revenue.

A simple review of the AdSense policies makes it clear beyond a reasonable doubt that my websites fall well within Google’s guidelines. Each site had 100% unique & family friendly content, and I was by no means tricking or encouraging anyone to click my ads, I never clicked on my own ads, and as far as I can tell, I was 100% compliant with their tips & guidelines.

After a month or two of thought, here are my best guesses as to what might have happened:

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Counterpoint: Google+ Is a Plus Size Flop Compared to Facebook

Google+ has launched to much fan-fare and hype. I think it’s just that – hype – and is destined to be another one of Google’s failed attempts at social media. While I’m intentionally being provocative here, and obviously can’t predict the future, I’m fairly confident in making such a bold claim. Here’s why:

Google+ has some neat features, which have been examined thoroughly by many people much smarter than I. Many marketers, such as my good friend Richard Melick, have great excitement for Google+ to change the face of social media marketing. Surely, features such as Circles & Hangouts are pretty slick. But other than a few bells & whistles, it’s fundamentally no different than the core purpose & functionality of Facebook – to share updates, pictures, videos & more with your friends. The major differences are just the location (facebook.com versus google.com) and the nomenclature (groups versus circles).

With so little differentiating the two, I don’t think Google+ has a chance at ever being a “Facebook Killer”

Here’s why I think Google+ is a flop:

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Google lauches City Pages and Additional Local Search Features

In my latest post on the iCrossing Great Finds blog, I talk about Google’s latest efforts at improving local search and driving more visitors to to Google Places Pages. The Local Search game is getting very interesting! Here is a brief excerpt, head over to the iCrossing blog for more!

Local businesses take note: Google has begun to roll out City Pages for select cities, currently including PortlandAustinSan Diego and Madison, Wisconsin, and has indicated plans to roll out these pages to more cities soon. Google also launched a number of updates to local search as announced at its Inside Searchpress conference this week. These developments are crucial to anyone who runs a local business or is in charge of marketing for national companies with local franchises. This post explains what you need to know to improve your local search visibility in Google.

Read more here

15 Takeaways from the Google Webmaster Live Chat with Matt Cutts

Over at the iCrossing Great Finds blog I talk about a recent Live Chat with Google’s Matt Cutts, and some takeways that search marketers can use to learn more about SEO as well as become better communicators with Google. Check out the brief excerpt below, then head over to the iCrossing blog for more!

Today Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, hosted the first-ever live broadcast ofGoogle Webmaster Central on YouTube. For those of us lucky enough to be able to tune into the broadcast (it was announced on short notice), Matt shared some great takeaways about search engine optimization (SEO), how to communicate with Matt Cutts, and Google in general. Here are some takeaways about Matt, Google, and SEO.

Read more…

The Google Instant Announcement Parody, Xtranormal Style

Below is a parody-style recap of the Google Instant search announcement yesterday as recreated using Xtranormal. The gentleman sitting behind the desk is a fictional Danny Sullivan, and most of his quotes are lifted from tweets he made throughout the day (e.g. See, Google knows I’m not a teenage girl). The other fellow is a random “Search Noob” that pokes fun at all of the twitter commentators who kind of freaked out before fully comprehending the announcement…and lastly, the reference to Steve Rubel at the end is referring to a tweet he made that said “SEO is irrelevant” during the announcement, which definitely ruffled a lot of feathers. The “pistol whip” comment is also a subtle nod to one of my favorite movies, Super Troopers, in which Captain O’Hagan vows to pistol whip the next person to say Shenanigans, which prompts Mac to ask a leading question he knows Farva will answer with “Shenanigans.”

This is by no means meant to be disrespectful to anyone involved and is merely adding some humor to the situation, so if this offends you I am sorry in advance. To the rest of you, enjoy!

The Perfect Storm for Bing to Go Mainstream?

Bing Vs Google

This could be the perfect storm for Bing to gain market share and become a substantial threat to Google – or so we better hope.

Last week, Google and Verizon announced a deal that may very well kill net neutrality for mobile devices, as PC World reports.  This sentiment is echoed throughout the industry including this post from my colleague and industry expert Rob Garner on MediaPost. This crucial misstep has revealed Google is not a benevolent champion of free speech and internet neutrality, but that they’re no different from any other company that holds a monopoly-sized share of the market – greedy. In fact, the only real difference between Microsoft in it’s peak and Google now is that Microsoft didn’t try to pretend they were benevolent good guys, whereas Google wants you to drink the “Don’t be Evil” Kool-Aid until it poisons you. This Silicon Alley Insider article frames this phenomenon quite well.

But this isn’t all about Google making a major misstep and turning off many people (like myself) who were once Google fanatics.

For Bing to take off and truly become mainstream, they need not only a good product, but users motivated to try something new. Before, I had no reason to venture away from Google – it has always provided great results, great products (usually for free), and claimed to be the champions of the internet, free speech, and net neutrality. Why change search engines if Google has everything I need and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Now I have the motivation to change – I’m jaded with Google. Add to that, Bing (finally) has the product worth switching to (or at least trying…).

Bing has revamped their search results since former “Live” and has actually has been ahead of Google in integrating Social Media into search results, which is an increasingly important part of the internet to users. Bing was the first (and has still done the best job) at integrating Twitter into it’s search results, they were the first to add Foursquare into their Maps, they were the first to add “infinite scroll” to their Images (which Google even admits was a copy cat move of Bing here), and much more.

While Google’s algorithm is still a bit more sophisticated, Bing is also catching up in this area. To the untrained eye, Bing’s algorithm is usually pretty decent. I hate to say it, but they still have their work cut-out here…luckily Google has also been slacking recently, as Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz points out the growing amount of spam in Google and the disappointing recent progress at Google in doing anything about it.

To webmasters, Bing is catching up to Google in their offerings as well. They are revamping Bing Webmaster Tools to include more useful information, and they will be integrating Yahoo Site Explorer (an invaluable tool for webmasters & SEOs alike) into the Bing Webmaster Tool suite.  Again, they still have plenty of catch up with Google’s robust offerings, but they’ve made a ton of progress and it’s a very good start.

According to Hitwise, in July Bing held 9.85% of the search share and Yahoo held 14.37%. Yahoo searches are now powered by Bing as of this morning (August 19, 2010), which means that those numbers should still be pretty accurate, implying close to a 25% market share for Bing.

That 25% market share, combined with a Google PR nightmare and a significantly improved Bing experience could be the perfect storm to disrupt Google’s smooth sailing…and let’s all hope so.

Not only is Google’s threat to net neutrality a reason to hope they have a valiant competitor, but competition itself is a good thing for both engines. I like choices. Clearly Bing’s competition has spurred Google to innovate further, in many cases stealing or building upon ideas Bing introduced first. Competition is good for everyone, and it means that Google no longer has so much power they can single-handedly undermine net neutrality. In a wierd sort of way, Microsoft could be the last hope to prevent Google from becoming an evil monopoly – who woulda thunk.

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The First Three WordPress Plugins You Should Install

WordPress Admin Panel

I’ve recently started yet another WordPress blog (just like the default tagline says), bringing my total count up to four active blogs that I control. Now that I’m starting to get the hang of this, here are the first plugins I recommend installing right away on your new WordPress blog to kick things off on the right foot:

  1. Akismet – this blocks comment spam. If you don’t have this plugin, or one like it, you probably spend all day moderating your comments, or your blog is so new even spammers haven’t found it yet – but trust me, they will. Install Akismet and 99.9% of your spam problems will go away.
  2. WP Security Scan – after getting hacked last year, I realized WordPress has some pretty significant security flaws – since its open source, anyone can read the back end code and figure out how it all works – and everyone shares the same basic platform, which means that once you learn to hack one WordPress blog, chances are you can hack just about any of them. WP Security Scan both scans and fixes your WordPress blog for most common vulnerabilities, which will make it much harder for hackers to gain unauthorized access to your blog compared to the average WordPress install. This plugin takes seconds to install, but will save you hours of headache if a hacker every targeted you.
  3. WP Minify – a fast loading blog is a healthy blog. WP Minify compresses Javascript and CSS files to improve page load time. It’s well known within the SEO community that Google uses page load speed as part of their ranking algorithm, so every second you can shave off that loading speed can only help.

Of course, this list would be incomplete without mentioning two other things you should do as soon as you start a new blog:

  1. Sign up and verify your site in Google Webmaster Tools – this will alert you of any issues Google has crawling your site, as well as a wealth of other data like inbound links, relevant keywords, and much more. It will also get your site crawled by Google sooner rather than later, so you’ll start showing up in the search results.
  2. Sign up and implement Google Analytics, either using a plugin like Google Analytics for WordPress or manually inserting your tracking code into the footer. This will help you monitor site performance over time, and find referring networks that you can interact & engage with to grow a loyal base of readers to your blog. And since Google Analytics is completely free, there is no sense not collecting this data, even if you don’t plan on using it right away – in a few months, you’ll probably be interested and wish you had been tracking your site since the beginning.

I hope this was helpful – let me know if I left off any good suggestions in the comments section below!

10 Things I Learned at OMS Phoenix Yesterday

Online Marketing Summit Phoenix

I attended the Online Marketing Summit in Phoenix yesterday, and wanted to share a few insights & tips I learned. It was a great conference and it was nice to see a lot of familiar faces and learn some new things. Thanks to everyone that made it possible! We covered a wide range of topics including SEO, Social Media, Conversion Optimization, Content Strategy, and everything in between. In no particular order, here were my favorite takeaways:

#10: Create a Search & Social Media Center for Excellence: Create a central repository for best practices, keywords, social media engagement guidelines, etc, for all employees. This will benefit everyone involved by:

  • Leveraging synergies across all of your digital channels – search, social, PR, web development, email marketing, and display.
  • Getting PR & Social Media people the proper URLs and anchor text for Press Releases & Social Media messaging, as well as tips for optimal distribution
  • Allowing more people to get involved with responding to complaints or questions via twitter & message boards by posting engagement guidelines. Phone support people can respond to complaints on twitter during downtime if they have training & knowledge base.

#9: A Cheaper Press Release – WebWire.com

  • I submit a ton of online press releases for clients through PRNewswire, Marketwire, and PRWeb – but they cost several hundred bucks a pop. It doesn’t look like the distribution network is as robust for Webwire, but for $20, that’s a cheap backlink at the very least…thanks @fionnd of Elixir for this tip!
Adwords Suggestions for the brand iCrossing

Adwords Tool Keyword Suggestions for the query iCrossing

#8: Search your brand & competitors & Adwords Tool – See what suggestions Google has for your brand name, and your competitors brand names in the Google Keyword Tool and Google Search Suggest.

  • This can be helpful to: find interesting keyword ideas for brand pages, find new content ideas & content gaps, and discover reputation management issues. Check out the image to the right for suggestions google had for the word “icrossing” – very on target!

#7: Some Cool Stats & Quotes

  • #1 position on SERP gets 43% of the clicks – Arnie K of Vertical Measures, a link building company
  • “Rankings are something you can influence, not something you can control” – Arnie K – good perspective
  • If you have a website, you are a publisher – Mike Corak
  • .The BEST time to post a blog is Tuesday morning, while the WORST is Friday afternoon. – Dan Tyre  of hubspot
  • “Brands must behave and enage like people do…” ~Brian Haven of iCrossing
  • Blogs are the unsung heroes of SEO
  • Do not neglect your blog child
  • If you talk to people the way advertising talked to people they’d punch you in the face – Steve Groves

#6: Check out your backlink diversity – diversity of backlinks has increased in importance in the past year or so – those with unnatural backlink profiles do not get the same benefits they used to. Don’t overdo one method of link building (e.g. directory submissions) if you’re not going to do others.

#5: Use Social Media Profile Pages for Quick & Free Backlinks – it’s easy to get links on many social networking sites, and even if they’re nofollowed, it’s still a great tool for reputation management and probably still pass along some SEO value as well. Examples: Naymz, 123People, BusinessWeek.com, Google Profiles, LinkedIn…

#4: The Real SEO Value of a No Follow Link? There was some discussion that a rel=nofollow link has been shown to influence rankings and has SEO value. Something to consider – don’t dismiss a link just because it’s nofollowed! In my personal experience I’ve seen evidence that there is some SEO value here as well, although I haven’t seen any conclusive case studies to prove it.

The last three tips were from Jeff Eisenberg, a famous conversion optimization expert who wrote “A Call to Action” along with his brother Bryan. This was the best presentation of the whole summit in my opinion, the whole presentation was captivating and inspiring – check him and his brother out at: http://www.bryaneisenberg.com/

#3: Analyze Every Word & Image on your Money Pages

  • When Dell changed “Learn More” to “Help Me Choose” on the computer configuration page, they saw an increase of MILLIONS of dollars. Why? When customers are ready to check out, they don’t want education (Learn More), but they do want help making sure they picked the right accessories & upgrades (Help Me Choose).
  • Another Example: Overstock.com had horrible conversions on their DVD page, something that should sell well. Turns out an image talking about Childrens Movies turned off users, thinking they were on the wrong page. They changed the image to something generic, and generated a $25m sales jump
  • The takeway? Understand the mindset of the customer, and talk in their language.

#2: Make your forms & check-out pages warm & fuzzy

  • Filing in Credit Card info is the scariest moment for the consumer, and where abandonment most commonly occurs.
  • Post your return policy, quality guarantees, etc, on this page and make the customer feel warm and fuzzy
  • Examples – adding customer testimonials on check-out page, always display savings (if applicable), show quality/product guarantees
  • Warren Buffet’s shoe company added a “Return-O-Meter” to their check out page showing how often a shoe is returned, and why (e.g. too wide, too small, etc). The result? Lower abandonment rate (higher confidence in purchase) plus fewer returns.

#1: Leverage Your Reviews!

  • The Eisenberg Brothers have been very successful using reviews to increase conversions.
  • With internal search on a website, allow users to search by Best Reviews/Most Reviews. When Customers Sort this way, there is a huge increase in conversions
  • Run promotions like Top Reviewed under $50. These types of categories convert much higher.
  • Another example: Vitacost – after a customer purchases something, Vitacost thanks them for the order and asks them to review – the result? Customers would go to Vitacost.com, review the product, and actually buy more products during that session!
  • Reviews have the ability to turn worthless customer (who buys very little, very infrequently, usually on sale, but leaves a review) into a very valuable customer, as their review may sway the big buyers.

PS If I mentioned something you said and didn’t properly attribute it back to you, please leave a comment and let me know and I’ll be happy to include a link back to your website or twitter profile! I was scribbling furiously on a notepad and some of the details got lost or mixed up…